By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate, Tuesday asked the Federal government to through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources ensure early completion of Osara Dam in Kogi State for the provision of adequate water for irrigated crop production and safe drinking by the people.
Against this backdrop, the Senate has mandated its Committee on Water Resources to liaise with the ministry over the completion of the dam, which it said was the largest source of water in the state with the Ekuku Dam as the second largest.
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion by Senator Ahmed Ogembe, PDP, Kogi Central and entitled, “Urgent call for the speedy resuscitation of the Osara / Ekuku Dams in Kogi Central Senatorial District.”
Presenting the motion, Senator Ogembe told the Senate that the Osara Dam was first conceived in 1995 under the Ibrahim Babangida administration as part of the country’s public irrigation sector schemes, adding that it was meant to provide water for irrigated crop production and drinking.
According to him, construction of the dam “is a strategic component in the development of Nigeria’s Iron Ore and Steel projects in Itakpe and Ajaokuta as the Osara dam site is situated about 6km north of the National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, Itakpe and is accessible through the Lokoja-Okene highway”.
Ogembe however, lamented that the construction works and the development of the necessary infrastructure for Osara dam to effectively function as an irrigation project and water supply scheme was truncated;
He also bemoaned the “abandonment of this laudable project impacts negatively on the socio-economic life of not just the people of Kogi Central Senatorial District, but the entire Kogi State and indeed the whole country”.
Senator Ogembe therefore warned that “Kogi State being a gateway between the Northern and Southern Nigeria, the possibility of outbreak of diseases due to water crisis cannot be overruled”.
He said, “Kogi State is geographically located in the heart of Nigeria. The state is well blessed with water resources being the host of the confluence, the meeting point of two great rivers, Benue and Niger.
“Despite this natural advantage, the lack of potable drinking water supply accurately rhymes with the anonymous sailor’s distress cry: ‘Water, water everywhere, but not a single drop to drink’. This perfectly describes the portable water supply situation in Kogi State.”
Contributing, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North) noted that the dam, if completed would provide additional jobs and wealth for the people of the state and the country in general.
Lawan stressed that the dam is very important to the federal government’s efforts at boosting agriculture not only to feed the nation, but also to enhance the living standards of its citizenry.
He recalled that the present All Progressives Congress, APC led federal government had within the three years of its inauguration been able to cut rice importation by over 90 per cent, believing that it would be finally stopped by next year while the exportation of the commodity and some others would also commence.